SPORTS BIZ by Dale Hofmann


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At one point in their lively, unsentimental appreciation of sport as a money game, the authors observe that buying a professional franchise can prove a fine investment; running one, they warn, is a marginal proposition at best. As much as any insight, this paradox captures the antic aspects of a very big business in which the unionized help are paid princely sums, capitalist proprietors share the considerable wealth generated by network TV, and municipalities throughout North America vie to underwrite stadiums or arenas that will showcase as well as enrich essentially private enterprises. Money makes the mare to go in pro sports; accordingly, Hofmann and Greenberg focus on how it figures in major-league baseball, basketball, football, and other games world-class athletes play. For openers, they probe the often surprising particulars of player contracts and examine the arguably pivotal role played by agents in negotiating megabuck deals. Covered as well are the lucrative endorsement opportunities available to superstars (or local heroes), corporate sponsorship of attractive events, the realities of gambling, and the typically contentious nature of labor relations, which has made fans increasingly impatient with handsomely compensated performers as well as their employers. The authors offer perceptive commentary on sport-related lawsuits, including the College Football Association's successful challenge of the NCAA's long-standing control over TV rights, and allied attempts to maximize returns in what until recently was assumed to be a market affording almost limitless financial rewards. They also profile the strong-willed men and women (decidedly fewer in number) who own teams, which (to the frustration of politicians) are viewed as movable fiefdoms. In a driving finish, Hofmann and Greenberg provide detailed breakdowns on gate receipts, concessions, broadcast revenues, and other sources of income--data that goes a long way toward explaining why most clubs have a tough time breaking even, much less turning a profit, and why the price of admission continues to rise. Revelatory fare that documents and illuminates a significant sector of latter-day culture in consistently entertaining fashion.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1989
ISBN: 88011-333-2
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